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Cristiano da Matta

Damatta usgp 2004 stage.jpg
Cristiano da Matta
Nationality 22px-Flag of Brazil.png Brazilian
Years 2003 - 2004
Team(s) Toyota
Races 28
Championships 0
Wins 0
Podiums 0
Poles 0
Fastest laps 0
First race 2003 Australian Grand Prix
First win
Last win
Last race 2004 German Grand Prix


Cristiano Monteiro da Matta (born September 19, 1973) is a Brazilian auto racing driver, winner of the American CART Championship in 2002, and former Toyota Formula One driver.

Career biography

Origins and early career

Da Matta's father was Toninho da Matta, a 14-time Brazilian touring car champion. He began karting at the age of 16, adopting a helmet design nearly identical to his famous father's helmet. He quickly rose to the top by winning numerous karting championships before winning the 1993 Brazilian Formula Ford championship. In 1994, he continued his successful ways, winning the Formula 3 Brazilian championship. In 1996, da Matta participated in the Formula 3000 series in Great Britain.

North American racing

1997 saw Cristiano move to the United States for the Indy Lights racing series, in which he won "Rookie of the Year" honors. The next year (1998), he won the championship by winning 7 races and securing 4 pole positions. It was at this stage in his career when Cristiano began working with performance scientist Dr. Jacques Dallare on physical and mental training. In 1999, da Matta raced in the CART series for Team Arciero Wells, which were running Toyota engines; da Matta drove a Toyota-powered car from then until 2004. His first win came in 2000, and despite some sponsor opposition he joined the front-running Newman/Haas Racing team for 2001. He won the CART drivers' championship in 2002 under Toyota power with the Newman/Haas Racing team, dominating the year with 7 race wins and 7 poles.

Formula One

Da Matta driving for the Toyota F1 team at the USGP

Cristiano completed his move up the racing ladder in 2003, reaching the pinnacle of motor sport with the Toyota Formula One team. He scored 10 championship points that year, four more than seasoned veteran and teammate Olivier Panis. His fortunes took a downturn in 2004, however. Having scored only 3 championship points, da Matta lost his race seat to Ricardo Zonta after the German Grand Prix in Hockenheim. da Matta vowed to never again race in Formula One, as he felt it was not competitive enough, with too much emphasis on car performance.

Return to USA

In 2005, Cristiano moved back to the Champ Car World Series, to race for the PKV Racing team. That season he won the race at Portland, and finished 11th overall in the standings. For the 2006 Champ Car season, he switched to the Dale Coyne Racing to drive the No.19 Ford Lola, until June 9, 2006, when he switched teams again, to take over A.J. Allmendinger's seat at RuSPORT. Second place at San Jose left him 6th overall in the series.

Collision with deer during test

On August 3, 2006, Cristiano's car was involved in a collision with a deer that ran in front of him as he headed towards turn 6 during Champ Car open testing at Road America. He hit the deer with his right front tire, the deer then flew back and hit da Matta in the cockpit. It is believed when the deer hit da Matta in the cockpit, he was knocked unconscious. He remained unconscious when the safety crew extricated da Matta from the car and was airlifted to Theda Clark Medical Center in Neenah, Wisconsin, where he underwent surgery to remove a subdural hematoma. Following the surgery, da Matta was placed in an induced coma, to allow for the swelling to subside.

As of August 7, da Matta was making "slow but steady progress", while the doctors were working on reducing da Matta's level of sedation. This slow recovery was confirmed on August 9, as it was reported that Da Matta was able to move "all of his extremities spontaneously as well as in response to physical stimulation".

On August 20, Da Matta was transferred out of intensive care.

Personal

Outside the racing world, da Matta's interests include playing the guitar, swimming, and mountain biking. He also participated in gymnastics as a youth, at one point training with the Club Flamengo's Olympic team. Cristiano and his girlfriend Vanessa, live in Miami, Florida. They have been together for an ongoing five years.

Complete Formula One results

Yr Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Team WDC Points
2003 Toyota AUS
Ret
MAL
11
BRA
10
SAN
12
SPA
6
AUT
10
MON
9
CAN
11
EUR
Ret
FRA
11
GBR
7
DEU
6
HUN
11
ITA
Ret
USA
9
JPN
7
    Toyota 13th 10
2004 Toyota AUS
12
MAL
9
BAH
10
SAN
Ret
SPA
13
MON
6
EUR
Ret
CAN
DSQ
USA
Ret
FRA
14
GBR
13
DEU
Ret
HUN
BEL
ITA
CHN
JPN
BRA
Toyota 17th 3

Complete Champ Car results

Yr Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Rank Points
2002 Newman/Haas MTR
1
LBH
8
JPN
Ret
MIL
11
LAG
1
POR
1
CHI
1
TOR
1
CLE
Ret
VAN
Ret
MID
13
ROA
1
MTL
2
DEN
3
ENG
2
MIA
1
SUR
8
FON
Ret
MEX
2
1 237
2005 PKV LBH
10
MTY
6
MIL
11
POR
1
CLE
16
TOR
17
EDM
17
SAN
10
DEN
18
MTL
6
LAS
12
SUR
19
MEX
14
              11 139
2006 Coyne/
RuSPORT
LBH
5
HST
9
MOT
9
MIL
Ret
POR
5
CLE
14
TOR
5
EDM
Ret
SAN
2
DEN
INJ
MON
 
ROA
 
SUR
 
MEX
 
            11* 134*

* Denotes present season standing

1999-2001 results to be added

External links